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That elusive peppery taste-NYT

Phaedrus Jun 4, 2008 10:02 AM


Harold McGee is God.

  1. m
    mhoffman Jun 4, 2008 12:21 PM

    Love, love, love McGee. What a fascinatingly specific instance of the subjectivity of taste.

    5 Replies
    1. re: mhoffman
      Ruth Lafler Jun 4, 2008 03:17 PM

      Yeah, people tend to assume that everyone can taste what they can taste. But we all know, for example, that for a significant number of people cilantro tastes like soap. There are probably many, many compounds that some people can taste and others can't, or that taste different to different people.

      He made a good point about testing the palates of people who work in kitchens. You wouldn't have a color-blind person working as a decorator, and obviously someone who can't tell if a dish has too much pepper shouldn't be working in a kitchen (or at least, should have their food tasted by someone else).

      1. re: Ruth Lafler
        mhoffman Jun 4, 2008 08:10 PM

        One would think that this weeding-out would happen naturally. Can't be the first time that guy used white pepper...

        1. re: Ruth Lafler
          LaurCar Jun 5, 2008 12:43 PM

          So true, I cannot stand cilantro due to the fact it taste like soap to me. While I love broccoli, to my good friend it tastes like urine smells. (That is how she puts it anyway)

          1. re: Ruth Lafler
            aynrandgirl Jun 5, 2008 05:39 PM

            How much restaurant food is spiced "to taste"? Usually every ingredient is exact. Even if you're winging it rules like "three grinds of pepper" should give you a consistent flavor. I see plenty of proprietors on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives who think they're hot stuff because they don't measure anything, but I'll bet they pay for it in inconsistent results.

            Other kitchen rules:
            Don't put the chilehead in charge of the buffalo wings.
            Don't put a supertaster in charge of anything.

            1. re: aynrandgirl
              Blueicus Jun 5, 2008 08:23 PM

              When you're cooking on the line you certainly season using your fingers as a measurement, and then occasionally taste to correct. Nobody's going to have precise measures of seasoning out unless you're measuring for something that's prepped a good deal in advance.

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